Sorry Paine

Thomas Paine, a strong supporter of Civic Republican ways, and the common good, if presented with current uprisings and relatively recent ones, would be appalled with how, after coming together as a community, the new nation or government either reverts to old ways and the status quo, or falls to another majority that seeks their own individual goals after reaching power or control. Paine’s notion that a community or group of people coming together, creating change, and maintaining that change or creating a good environment has been proven in many uprisings, overthrows, and revolutions to simply not happen. As soon as a community, or population gains control, human nature leads them to seek their own happiness, rather than that of the community. In many African nations this has been widely seen. Just as soon as it appears that a nation’s population is uniting to change the status quo, they merely reach the top, gain control, and fall into the vicious cycle or returning to the usual ways. People, when given power, take advantage of it for their own satisfaction. It’s even been shown through psychological experiments that when a group is given power, problems arise and the initial goals are lost.
Nigeria is a great example of this trend. Nigeria finally re-gained democracy in 1999 after having military rule for decades, and people came together to bring this extreme change that seemed for the better. Rival ethnic groups all came together for a common good, ignoring individual gain and individual safety, and brought about major change. Of course, right after a democratically elected president was put into power, things took a turn for the worse. Rival ethnicities remembered why they were at odds before, political parties split people even more, and lastly, the renewed focus on individuality and individual rights and gains created an awful environment for this new government. The following elections in 2003 and 2007 are widely seen as unfair and flawed. Paine would see the communal unity of 1999 as glorious, but in his mind this change should have brought continued Civic Republican ideals, but instead, as soon as unity brought change, individual needs became top priority. The government has become corrupt, and it doesn’t appear that positive growth and unity will come around for a long time. Even though the most recent election this year went better than the previous two, it still wasn’t a reassuring one. Morone seems to be more correct with his theory. Morone’s theory accepts Paine, but only puts him in step 2. If you put Nigeria on Morone’s stages, they would be on stage 3, the fragmentation stage. Nigeria is clearly headed for turmoil, rather than a civic republican society like Paine imagined.
Thomas Paine was right about the necessity of civic republican ideals for a change to happen, but his belief that it leads to a strong, unified community falls short. Nigeria, along with many other nations who have recently had revolutions or government changes, has led to a belief that those nations fail to peacefully move forward and reach prolonged stability.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply